Skip to main content

Full text of "A story about a real man"

See other formats


A STORY ABOUT A REAL MAN                                                                   103
according to the scientist's own design. There was a
shortage of utensils. In addition to the clinic's beautiful
porcelain crockery, dented aluminium bowls were used.
The blast from a bomb which had exploded in the vicinity
had shattered the glass of the huge Italian windows, and
these had to be boarded up with plywood. There was even
a shortage of water; every now and again the gas shut
off, and instruments had to be sterilised over antiquated
spirit-stoves. But the stream of wounded continued. They
were brought in increasing numbers—in aircraft, auto-
mobiles and trains. And their number grew in proportion
to the increase in the might of our offensive.
In spite of all this the entire hospital staff—from its
chief, the Merited Scientist and member of the Supreme
Soviet, to the ward maids, cloakroom attendants and
porters—all these tired, sometimes half-starving people,
who never knew a full night's rest, continued fanatically
to adhere to the established rules of their institute. The
ward maids, who sometimes took two and three spells
of duty in succession without a rest, took advantage of
every spare moment to clean and wash and scrub. The
nurses, thin, aged, staggering from weariness, continued,
as before, to appear on duty in white, starched robes, and
were as scrupulous as ever in carrying out the instructions
of the doctors. The house surgeons, as usual, were severe
in their strictures on finding even a spot on any of the
patients' bed linen, and they rubbed the walls, balustrades
and door handles with their pocket handkerchiefs to see
whether they were perfectly clean. And twice a day, at
fixed hours, the chief himself, a tall, florid-faced old
man, a regular martinet, with greying hair standing up
from a wide forehead, a black moustache and grey-
streaked imperial beard, made the rounds of the wards,
just as he did before the wai, accompanied by a suite
of house surgeons and assistants in starched smocks,
perused the case cards of the new patients and gave
advice in severe cases.
During those restless days he had an enormous amount
of work to do outside of the hospital too, but he always
found time to attend to the institute of his creation at the
expense of rest and sleep. When scolding a member of the
staff for some delinquency—and he did this boisterously.